March 17, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Although Dean & I have been together 10 years and I am a wedding photographer by trade, we never really contemplated getting married, aside from various drunken proposals on both sides over the years. There was the time he proposed in York, while we threw ice at the ducks on the river (don't ask!) then the time I proposed in a kebab shop in Goa, India. But we never followed up on these proposals. Anyone who knows me, will know I like to go away and explore new places, that's why I shoot weddings - to pay for all my adventures! Anyway, we had planned to go to Vegas, to meet some friends who had moved to America and having a cheesy, Las Vegas wedding really appealed to me, although Dean put his foot down and said no at first. Then he surprised me by proposing for real while we were at Gay Pride in Leeds. It became really-real when he bought me my beautiful vintage opal & diamond engagement ring. This was one month before we were due to fly to Vegas. We had just one month to plan the wedding, from the UK! This was a little daunting, due to the sheer number of chapels and wedding packages on offer. We soon decided to do it the proper Vegas way - Elvis, pink Cadillac, helicopter ride, the lot! Here is our story, with a bit of planning advice for anyone thinking of doing the same thing!

Planning from the UK

Dean and I got married at an Elvis themed chapel called The Little Chapel, which is an aptly named little Chapel in downtown Vegas, opposite the Stratosphere Casino & Hotel. This was recommended to me by another wedding photographer, who had shot a wedding there. It was so easy to book, we just sent an email, confirmed the time and the package that we wanted, plus told them which Elvis songs we would like - and it was all booked! The Little Chapel was perfect because of it's location, near to the Stratosphere, were we stayed. We initially planned to walk (it is literally over the road) however, when I saw their pink Cadillac, I fell in love with it, so we added that on to our package and on the day it picked us up from outside the hotel. Before you get married in Vegas, you both need to present yourselves at the county Clerks office to obtain a marriage licence. This is easy. You just rock up, ask for a form, fill it in and pay the fee ($77 at the time we did it, Sep 2017). Your marriage licence is then issued straightaway, and you just  take it with you to your venue, on the day. There is no waiting period to get married after the licence has been issued, and it is good for one year from date of issue. You can even complete it prior from the UK, on line if you want to, but it is fun to go to the County Clerks office, so I would recommend you do that. When we went, it was full of other couples of all nationalities doing the exact same thing as us, everyone was in a great mood, even the officials, and it was fab fun! 

Getting ready

I got ready with my friend Kirsty, while the boys went to a shooting range in the morning. Turns out my husband could have been a pro hit-man in a previous life, he was that good at smashing the target. I fear Kirsty & I drank a bit too much Toffee-Vodka as I felt quite tipsy when the Cadillac arrived! Kirsty cried when she saw me in my dress. I chose a simple vintage-style lace tea-dress dress from the website Chi Chi as it was perfect for the hot weather, and just right for a simple elopement wedding; I also really loved my shoes. I bought them from the website Irregular Choice. I am a low-key kinda girl.  In fact, I had never had my make up professionally done ever before either and was slightly worried I would end up looking like a drag queen! The morning atmosphere was full of excitement. I had wanted Kirsty to do a 'First look' photo, but we were way too excited to take photos, which I regret now. The boys wore matching dark blue shorts, white linen short sleeve shirts, navy blue bow tie and beige waist coats, with casual Toms woven shoes. They looked really cool and relaxed! Together, all 4 of us jumped in the Cadillac and it took us to the Chapel. I think we might have been singing at this point. As an added quirk, the Caddy driver was dressed up as Elvis!

Elvis themed vows

The wedding itself was conducted by Elvis (Otherwise known as Tim) and we choose three Elvis songs; The Wonder of You, which I walked down the red carpet too; Teddy Bear during the ceremony  & Viva Las Vegas to finish (it HAD to be Viva Las Vegas!)  We also said special Elvis themed vows including 'I promise to never to treat you like a hound-dog, step on your blue suede shoes or leave you at the heartbreak hotel'. We laughed and danced all the way through the ceremony.

After the ceremony

The pink caddy took us a ride down the strip and dropped us off at the Venetian, where we had a lovely Italian meal, followed by a Gondola ride, which was a bit cheesy, but still good fun. We then had cocktails before we were collected to go to the airstrip for a sunset helicopter ride over the strip. I am absolutely petrified of flying, which is a bit of a nuisance, given how much I love holidays and adventures. Luckily they give you free Champagne before hand as you are waiting to board your helicopter, so I made the most of this for some dutch courage. To give myself courage, I kept repeating 'Zero fucks given, Zero fucks given...' to boost my shaky nerves. I needn't have worried, it was an amazing experience, even if the pilot scared me on purpose by not warning me he was about to bank to avoid the Stratosphere tower! We even had more Champagne when we landed too; the pilot said it was 'Victory Juice', I wasn't going to say no, I had just conquered a massive fear!  If you are going to do a helicopter trip, I can highly recommend doing a sun-set / evening tour over the strip, as you get to the see all the bright lights of Vegas from a new perspective. After the helicopter trip, we carried on the party downtown, at Freemont street, with some great Canadian peeps that we met while waiting for lift off. Freemont street is a great place to party, drink frozen margaritas and marvel at the weird and wonderful sights.

Viva Las Vegas

If you are thinking of getting married in Vegas, the biggest piece of advice I can give you, is to speak to other people who have done it and get  recommendations, so you have a starting point. Las Vegas is the wedding capital of the world. There are around 300 weddings in Vegas every day, so the available options are mind blowing and it feels overwhelming when you start planning! And hire a pro photographer too; you'd think that as I am a pro-tog myself, that this would have been a priority, but we just wanted to have fun. Looking back, I wish we had hired a pro photographer from the UK to shoot our elopement; if you want to do this this, just google Destination Wedding Photographers or Elopement Photographers and you'll find a whole heap of people willing to travel to shoot your big day. I have actually just started doing this myself, although I have only shot one wedding in Cyprus so far, with one more booked for later this year too. Also Don't drink too much Toffee-Vodka while you are getting ready either! In short, a Vegas wedding might not be everyone's cup of tea, but for us it was the perfect way to become Man & Wife & it was bloody good fun!

Our Vegas Ceremony!Our Vegas Ceremony!

Marriage Licence / County Clerk office Info: http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/clerk/Pages/default.aspx

Marriage Licence Form: https://clerk.clarkcountynv.gov/AcclaimClerkPreApp/

Dress: https://www.chichiclothing.com/categories/Bridal-Collection/

Shoes: https://www.irregularchoice.com/

Venue: https://www.thelittlevegaschapel.com/

Gondola rides at the Venetian: https://www.venetian.com/resort/attractions/gondola-rides.html

Helicopter: http://www.maverickhelicopter.com/tour-lasvegas-nights.aspx

Freemont Street: https://vegasexperience.com/?gclid=CjwKCAjw-bLVBRBMEiwAmKSB84IiLZ59CQhs75Tj-LTZFtP0XNq-fDrbwr8F-tgjFSHXbH_kg8amKhoCS-UQAvD_BwE


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